Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Giro d'Italia 2010 Wrap Up: Ivan Basso 2nd Victory in Giro d'Italia

After 21 stages around Italy's regions Ivan Basso won his second Giro d'Italia.

The Giro d'Italia finished Sunday with a loop around Verona. Although the Italian Ivan Basso did not win the Verona stage 21, he is the overall Giro d'Italia 2010 winner, making an Italian the Giro d' Italia champion.

It's been four years since Basso first found glory winning the Giro d'Italia. In between there was a fall from grace, a laborious resurrection, and finally redemption, when Basso once again cinched victory Sunday in his beloved "Giro."

Last year Basso returned for the Centennial Giro d'Italia famed Italian race, where he finished fifth place. While the result failed to create much of a stir in the media, Basso was hopeful.

He improved slightly with a fourth-place in the Tour of Spain at the end of 2009, but it was in this year's Giro that Basso once again became a winner. Like other pre-race favorites Cadel Evans and Alexandre Vinokourov, Basso struggled to control this uncontrollable three-week race that started in Holland.

The first week on the 2010 Giro d'Italia was filled with horrible spring weather in Italy that brought suffering crashes to all the cyclists. Basso and the Liquigas Team returned to Italyafter the Holland portion and dominated the team time trial. The 30- year old Basso, along with up-and-coming teammate Vincenzo Nibali, folded on stage seven from Carrara to Montalcino in rain filled deluge that transformed the stage's Tuscan white dirt roads of the "Strade Bianche" into a muddy mess.

The two minutes he lost to Montalcino that day were followed by a 12-plus minutes he and the other 2010 Giro d'Italia favorites lost when nearly 50 riders broke away on stage 11 to the earthquake town of L'Aquila on another rain-drenched stage. Suddenly the most prominent threat in the race wasn't from Evans or Vinokourov, but Spaniard David Arroyo, who was now sitting comfortably in the lead.

However, Giro d'Italia fans know that it is the mountain stages in the final weeks that determine who will be the Giro d'Italia winner. Basso exploited the mountain stages in the final week. While other favorites were exhausted, Basso rebounded, proving that he is still one of the world's top climbers when he's at his best. And with each climb he chipped away at Arroyo's lead.

The most impressive moment came when he soloed to victory on the Monte Zoncolan, one of the hardest climbs in all of professional bike racing, at the finish of stage 15. But the most decisive moment came when he launched an attack with Stefano Garzelli and his teammate Nibali on stage 19 to Aprica.

Surging on the Mortirolo Pass, in Lombardy, a climb Lance Armstrong called the hardest in all cycling, the trio rolled away from the competition. In contrast to his famed climbing skills, Basso is also noted as a wretched descender. Yet chaperoned by Nibali, one of the best, Basso held his advantage down the mountain, and the trio only increased their lead on the final climb to Aprica. At the finish, the pink leader's jersey was his. Days later, so was his second victory in the famed Giro d'Italia.

After taking over the pink jersey on Friday Basso stated regarding his past doping problems, "What good does it do to stir that up again... That's an old story from 2006. What interests me is what I have been able to do since I put a number back on my jersey. Being in the middle of the storm makes you suffer, but also grow. The last four years are behind me. I prefer to think about the present... The Tour de France, I want it too much," Basso said. "That's where my career was shattered and that's where it will really start again. I want to give the Tour what it gave to me-a lot of joy and emotion."

Nevertheless, after his final victory in Verona on Sunday, Basso admitted, "credibility is earned one day at a time."

Final overall standings at the 2010 Giro d'Italia:

1. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 87hr 44min 01sec, 2. David Arroyo (ESP/GCE) at 1:51, 3. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 2:37, 4. Michele Scarponi (ITA/AND) 2:50, 5. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 3:27, 6. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ/AST) 7:06, 7. Richie Porte (AUS/SAX) 7:22, 8. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CTT) 9:39, 9. Marco Pinotti (ITA/THR) 14:20, 10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/LIQ) 14:51, 11. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 17:10, 12. Bauke Mollema (NED/RAB) 19:41, 13. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) 23:03, 14. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/KAT) 25:21, 15. Mauricio Ardila (COL/RAB) 32:29, 16. Linus Gerdemann (GER/MRM) 34:49, 17. Dario Cioni (ITA/SKY) 36:44, 18. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/RAB) 37:27, 19. Alexander Efimkin (RUS/ALM) 39:43, 20. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) 45:17, 21. Francis de Greef (BEL/OLO) 50:08, 22. Iban Mayoz (ESP/FOT) 1hr 07min 37sec, 23. Thomas Voeckler (FRA/BTL) 1h10:16, 24. Pieter Weening (NED/RAB) 1h10:55, 25. Vladimir Miholjevic (CRO/ASA) 1h11:10
Selected: 40. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) 1h47:58

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